The Dolby Theatre, formerly the Kodak Theatre – (The Second Machine Age, and the Oscars, Point us to One of the Great Problems of our Era)

The Kodak Theater is no more!
The Kodak Theatre is no more!

Last night, the Oscars were held at the Dolby Theatre.  When the theatre was built, it was named the Kodak Theatre.  Eastman Kodak paid $75 million for the naming rights.

Kodak and the Oscars were a natural match.  Consider (from this article):

Kodak has a Hollywood history of its own: the company has won eight Academy Awards over the years, and for 80 straight years (as of 2008), every single Oscar-winning movie has been produced on Kodak film.

That name was abandoned in February 2012, after Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

In the book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, we get a graphic description of the problem.  Here are some key excerpts:

A team of just fifteen people at Instagram created a simple app that over 130 million customers use to share some sixteen billion photos (and counting).
Kodak employed 145,300 people at one point, while indirectly employing thousands more via the extensive supply chain and retail distribution channels required by companies in the first machine age. Kodak made its founder, George Eastman, a rich man, but it also provided middle-class jobs for generations of people and created a substantial share of the wealth created in the city of Rochester after the company’s founding in 1880.

Instagram, with fifteen people, created a product that attracted a $1 billion payday from Facebook.  15 people!  More recently, we saw that What’sApp, also with a pretty small team of folks, sold to Facebook for $19 billion.

And Kodak is bankrupt.  And with it, all the jobs at Kodak, and the many, many more folks who made their living at photo labs, development outlets… the list is seemingly endless.  All those jobs – gone!

The problem:  the new wealth is made by the folks with the ideas.  That’s good, for them.  But the number of people needed to turn those ideas into real money is shrinking.  Not a little. But a lot!  A massive, big, huge lot.  And this creates a massive shrinking of jobs.

Second MachineIn The Second Machine Age, there is a chart that chronicles the rise in the income of college graduates, and the even bigger rise in income of those with graduate degrees.  But, the income for those without such degrees, especially for those who did not finish high school, is actually going down.

And, the warning in The Second Machine Age is that this shrinking of the number of workers needed will continue.  Though it is an optimistic book, with great promise for a more wonderful, more productive future, in a recent interview, the authors pretty much admitted that they did not have a solution to the “where will the jobs be?” problem for the large group of folks who are in serious danger of losing their jobs in this new “second machine age” era.

The problem is coming into better focus.  I have written about it for a long time.  This book has the data to back up my concern.

And, no one quite has an answer — a solution — to this problem.


The Second Machine Age is my selection for this Friday’s First Friday Book Synopsis.  If you are in the DFW area, come join us this Friday at 7:00 am.  Just follow the links on this web site. to register.

My synopis, with my multi-page, comprehensive handout, plus the audio of my presentation,  will be available in a few weeks on our companion site,

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